Tag Archives: Justise Winslow

It’s Duke and Wisconsin for all the marbles, as Kentucky weeps. A boxer drops his cell phone while fighting. And the strangest hockey save you’ll ever see

Duke-Wisconsin

One more game. One more game to determine the national champion in Division I men’s college basketball for 2014-15 (if you say that in Brent Musberger’s voice, you get the effect I am going for).

Duke, who you may have heard is the favorite team of this blogger, plays Wisconsin, who will be the favorite team of 99 percent of the rest of America watching tonight.

Should be a fantastic game. Hopefully as good as that Kentucky-Wisconsin game was Saturday night.

The last night of the season is always so bittersweet for diehard college hoop fans like me.

And with Duke back in the title game? I’ll be a nervous wreck all day. My poor 7-month-old will hear chapter and verse about how Justise Winslow needs to slow down Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker, and how Okafor better not let Kaminsky get him in foul trouble and … ah, he’ll never remember any of this, so I don’t think I’ll be doing any lasting psychological damage…

Some quick-hit thoughts from Saturday’s Final Four games:

— Well, well, well, looks like that guy from Lexington, Ky. with the “40-0” tattoo might need to get some removal work done. Seriously, as a Calipari and UK-hater I so enjoyed seeing them lose, and the most obnoxious fan base in America gets to have their balloon popped a bit (that guy below does look pretty sad).

I gotta say, though, that was an incredible run the Wildcats went on this year, going 38-0. And their kids, for the most part, seem like a classy, good bunch, even if half didn’t shake hands with Wisconsin afterwards.

kentuckyfan

— One of many reasons to love the Badgers: They play such pretty basketball. This isn’t like the old Wisconsin teams from 5 years ago, winning 48-46. These guys really pass and shoot beautifully, San Antonio Spurs-like.

— So great hearing Bill Raftery on the call of the Final Four. An absolutely wonderful man and announcer getting to be on the big stage. I didn’t hear any “Onions!” shouts from him, though.

— As for my boys from Duke? They’re playing their best ball of the year. I’m almost afraid to say it for fear of jinxing them, but they are peaking at the exact right time. I know no one will be pulling for them tonight, but if they win K’s 5th national title, you’ll hear me screaming no matter where you live.

— My 2 predictions for tonight: Duke 68, Wisconsin 66. And that Georgia State coach Ron Hunter falling off his stool will be in “One Shining Moment.”

**Next up, the first of two things in this blog post that I’ve never seen before. Check out this pro boxing match from last week between Marvin Jones and Ramon Luis Nicolas.

Watch what falls onto the canvas right at the start of this clip. It’s Jones’ cell phone, falling out of his pocket.
What in the name of Rocky Marciano would a fighter need a cell phone in the ring for? Could his trainer call him during the round with some instructions? (“Yeah, yeah, his jab is giving me problems, I’m going to try to hit him with a left hook soon, got it. Call you later when the round ends.”)

Maybe he wanted to always be reachable to his wife or girlfriend. Or he figured during a slow clench he could call and order a pizza for after the fight.

And also, how would he answer the phone with those unwieldy gloves on?
I’m brimming with questions.

**Finally today, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this in hockey. At a minor league American Hockey League game over the weekend between Manchester (N.H.) and Hartford, Manchester goalie Patrik Bartosak was preparing to face a shootout shot from Joey Crabb.

Bartosak sat staring at the ice as the whistle blew to start the shootout, totally oblivious to the fact that Crabb was barreling toward him with the puck. Bartosak never looked up nor heard the crowd, even as Crabb was right on top of him, as Crabb shot and the puck basically hit Bartosak in the pads. Only then did the goalie realize the shootout had started.

Seriously, the best accidental save ever.

Tweeted Bartosak afterwards: “I guess I need some hearing aids.”

Duke wins, Kentucky escapes, MSU stuns: An epic weekend sets up an epic Final Four. And Tom Hanks re-enacts scenes from every movie he’s ever made

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I haven’t blogged much this year about one of my ultimate sporting passions, the Duke men’s basketball team, because I know 95 percent of you hate Duke and/or don’t care about them, and I do try to keep the blog interesting to as many people as possible, while fulfilling the No. 1 goal I had when I started this thing: Entertain myself.

But Sunday night was special, topping off a fantastic weekend of NCAA Tournament action, as good a quartet of Elite 8 games as I remember in 30 years of watching March Madness.

So I’m going to spend a few words here talking about my Duke Blue Devils, who advanced to the Final Four.

This isn’t the prettiest Duke team ever in terms of style, they have their moments when they drive you crazy because four of the eight players are freshmen, and there were definitely times this season when I seriously doubted they’d be good enough to get to the Sweet 16, much less the Final Four.

But Sunday night, against a really good Gonzaga team, Duke did it.  They made their 12th Final Four under the greatest coach of all time, Mike Krzyzewski. (John Wooden is the only other acceptable answer).

They did it without much offense from Jahlil Okafor, the man-child freshman center who’ll be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft next year. They did it with lockdown defense from their only key senior, Quinn Cook, who was so emotional after finally realizing a dream that he broke down (above) in tears when it finally came true.
They did it thanks to a sophomore who never gets any love, Matt Jones, hitting big shot after big shot, and freshman Justise Winslow, who was the least-heralded of the Big 3 freshman signees last year but was by far the best during the last two weeks.

I have no idea if Duke can win the national title; as a spoiled Duke fan, I just hope they make the Final Four every year; that’s the goal.

It’s been five years since they’ve been there. I’m really happy they’re back.

Some other thoughts from a fabulous hoops weekend:

— Michigan State is the only improbable Final Four team this year, and even though the Spartans struggled way more than usual, you can’t be too surprised they’re here. Because they’re coached by Tom Izzo, a legend in his profession. This is by far his least-talented Final Four team, but man oh man, did they claw and scratch their way to two wins this weekend. Tremendous.

— The Kentucky-Notre Dame game. I mean… wow. What a sensational game. When the brackets came out I picked Notre Dame to peat the Wildcats in this round, partly because I believed they really could, and partly because I didn’t want to be like “the herd” picking Kentucky to go all the way.
And for 99 percent of the game, Notre Dame played perfectly. They shot well, defended everyone but Karl-Anthony Towns well (that guy is a beast, and impossible to stop in the low post), and with three minutes to go had the lead and the Kentucky fans were pooping in their pants about their perfect season going up in flames.

And then, the Irish just couldn’t finish. They took some ill-advised shots the last 3 possessions, UK made a couple foul shots with six seconds left, and it was over.
Incredibly dramatic, wonderful game, though.

**This has nothing to do with basketball but everything to do with the NCAA Tournament: I am so freaking sick of those Buick commercials. Dear Buick: I don’t care how many times you make me watch those ads, I’m not buying a Buick. (And as a Twitter follower of mine pointed out: Why the hell does that couple in the beginning have binoculars in their kitchen? Do they spy on their neighbors? Are they anti-Buick spies? Just general voyeurs? I’m brimming with questions).

– Wisconsin is so much fun to watch play, aren’t they? So well-coached, Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky are tremendous (though Kaminsky flops way too much), and they just share the ball beautifully. I think they beat Kentucky on Saturday.

— So we’ve got maybe the four best head coaches in the sport going head to head at the Final Four, with a perfect season on the line, two legendary blue-blood programs, and absolutely anyone could win the whole thing.

— And there are some people who think the NBA is better than college basketball. Insane.

**Finally today, I don’t really have much interest in checking out James Corden’s new late night show after Letterman; not really familiar with Corden, not awake watching TV at that hour, etc.

But if this skit he pulled the first week of his show is any indication of what’s to come, I’m excited. He and Mr. Tom Hanks spent six minutes re-creating scenes from every Hanks movie ever made. Pretty hilarious, and it gets better as it goes along (the “Sleepless in Seattle” one is my favorite.)

Duke cruises, Nova and Virginia crash out of the NCAA Tournament, and Izzo is a wizard. And the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” calls C-SPAN

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Whew. My eyes are tired and my brain is on overdrive. Four days of NCAA Tournament viewing can do that to you.

But I’m happy, of course. Gloriously happy, that my Duke Blue Devils avoided the upset bug that has plagued them the last few years, and put on a dominating performance Sunday, beating San Diego State by 19.

It was a rare, nice enjoyable and relaxing Duke win for yours truly. Justise Winslow was sensational; he’s the whole key to this team this year. When he’s engaged and making plays in the first couple minutes of the game, they win. When he’s passive and making silly turnovers and being lazy on defense, they lose.

It’s strange because he’s probably the third best player on the team, but he’s definitely the most important.  Great to see the whole team play defense, too, which doesn’t happen often.

Some more March Madness thoughts from a pretty fabulous weekend:

— Tom Izzo and Michigan State. Man, he’s an incredible coach. That game with UVA Sunday was rough on the eyes; tons of fouls, missed free throws, and not many pretty baskets. But this is not that good of a Spartans team, and he’s got them in the Sweet 16 again. Incredible coaching job. For Virginia, just an awful result, to have such a great season end like this. They just couldn’t score at all Sunday, and missed a bunch of free throws, too.

— Not surprised at all to see North Carolina State beat Villanova Saturday night. The Wolfpack have been great and terrible all year, and their “best” is as good as anyone in the country. They’ve got a fabulous backcourt, excellent rebounders, and a pretty good coach in Mark Gottfried.
Now, that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost by 20 in the Sweet 16. They’re just that erratic.

— It’s so great being a fan of this Tournament in 2015, technology-wise. Saturday night, the wife was at a concert, I put the little guy to bed at 8, then had a laptop, an iPad, and my TV on three different games, while toggling over to the Rangers game when one was at halftime. Sure it probably fried my brain a little but it was worth it.

— That UNC-Arkansas game was all kinds of fun to watch. After seeing so many slow-it-down, grind-it-out games in the 50s and 60s, that one was wild. Fast-paced, shooting every chance they got, high-flying, man it was fun. I’m not saying every game should be like that in the Tournament, but we could sure use a few more teams playing that style.

— Hell of a win for Notre Dame Saturday night, out-battling Butler. No points for the last 4 minutes of regulation, but that was old school Indiana basketball. And my man Mike Brey, coaching with a heavy heart after his Mom died earlier in the day. That had to be very tough to do.

— Sorry to see Georgia State and their coach who made a stool famous, Ron Hunter, lose on Saturday. But what a beautiful postgame opening statement he gave about his team, and about coaching his son for the last time. So emotional, so touching… you can tell how much this means to him. Really special.

— Kansas refused for decades to play Wichita State, as the Jayhawks coaches figured there was nothing to be gained (win, and you’re supposed to beat the smaller school in your state; lose and it’s humiliating) but one of the beautiful things about the NCAA Tournament is it sometimes forces  you to do things you don’t want to do.
So we got a Wichita State-KU matchup Sunday, and no big surprise, but the “little school” kicked the big school’s butt. The Shockers have been legit good for years, and dominated Kansas in the second half.
Moral of the story: Play the schools in your state, it’s wimpy not to.

— Some super matchups on tap for the Sweet 16: Notre Dame-Wichita State should be terrific. Wisconsin-Carolina is a total contrast in styles. Arizona-Xavier will be a great game. And can Michigan State keep its roll going against a really strong Oklahoma team?
Can’t wait till Thursday  night.

**Finally today, this made me laugh really hard, and if you remember early 1990s television, you’ll laugh to.

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” had a memorable opening credits sequence, with Will Smith doing a song/voiceover of how a kid from inner-city Philadelphia hit the jackpot, moving to Bel Air to live with his aunt and uncle.

Well, apparently a C-Span caller named Jack from California remembered it too, and he called in and, well, this is perfect…